In "Song Of Myself," there are many figures of speech related to grass. In most cases throughout, the word it also refers to grass. Identify three figures of speech from the poem and briefly explain what each is comparing or suggesting.

In "Song of Myself," Whitman uses both metaphor and personification when referring to the grass as "hopeful green stuff" and "the produced babe of the vegetation." Additionally, Whitman uses hyperbole when saying that the grass "is no less than the journey-work of the stars."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Three figures of speech related to grass in "Song of Myself" are as follows:

It must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

In the quote above, Whitman uses a metaphor when he says grass is the "flag of my disposition." A metaphor compares two unlike things without using the words like or as. Here the waving green grass seems to the speaker like a green flag waving in the wind. For Whitman, this is a positive image: the grass is like his disposition because they are both hopeful. The fact that the grass is hopeful also shows that Whitman personifies or assigns human characteristics to it.

I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.

The second quote is also a metaphor that personifies the grass. In this case, the speaker likens the grass to a child. Both are alike because they start out as "babes" that grow. As he would a child, the speaker will "tenderly use" the curling grass.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.

In the third quote, the speaker suggests the cosmic unity of all creation by using a metaphor to compare a blade of grass to the work done by the stars. This could be seen, too, as an oxymoron, or juxtaposition of opposites, because a leaf of grass is tiny and insignificant while stars are huge and magnificent lights in the heavens. It could also be seen as hyperbole or exaggeration to think of a blade of grass as the work of stars, because, again, grass is so insignificant. Whitman, however, is trying to suggest that it is not, in fact, insignificant but a part of the sacred, universal whole. I might also suggest that Whitman explodes normal categories of figurative speech: all of his poetry is exuberantly hyperbolic, for example, and in his strong identification with all of nature and the universe, he tends to personify everything.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team